Saturday, May 24, 2008

Political update for May, 2008 - Let the absurdities begin!

But they are funny

Love politics for the hypocrisy. If we don't, the constant torrent of it from the candidates, their supporters and the media will drive us crazy.

This post will continue to be anti-partisan, anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, anti-Liberal and anti-Conservative. Not that each of these groups do not have some sound ideas and claims, but their opposition to each others ideas, and single mindedness about their claims to having all the logical thoughts, the purest ideals and the most superior morals is just so much unadulterated nonsense, that even the reasonable notions are drowned out by all of the sound and fury, signifying . . . . (query for the audience -- do you need to reference an obvious quotation like that, or, can you reasonable rely on the intelligence of the readers? I say yes).

The latest round of flummery (a great word Rex Stout puts in his detective hero, Nero Wolfe's mouth) dominating the headlines are beauties like the transformance of Clinton's noting of a historical event (Robert Kennedy's assassination) into a slap at the apparently royal Kennedy clan when their eldest has just gotten a death sentence from cancer, and, because why not got to the extreme, a veiled threat as to what might happen to Obama if he wins. A pat on the back to Robert Kennedy, Jr. for quickly noting the silliness of the charges.

Obama was himself the subject of partisan buffoonery when he accidentally referred to the 57 United States. Rush Limbaugh implied that he may have been been thinking of his true constituency,the 57 Muslim nations. Oh, brother. Which is he Rush? A racist Christian or a clandestine Muslim? Because partisanship makes people illogical, there are those who actually have no trouble holding both of those beliefs.

But, to be absolutely fair to Obama, he said he had already campaigned in 57 states and had one to go, meaning he knew there were actually . . . 58 states. He must have been estimating.

Not for nothing, but McCain too suffered from one of these non-story stories when he accidentally mixed up Shia's and Sunni's and Al-Qaeda and Iranians on recent occasions. You know what it means -- nothing. Certainly nothing more than the fact that when you talk a real lot, every once in a while you are going to say something really stupid. I blather a lot about history and politics and every once in a while catch myself saying something that a moment's reflection would tell me I know better. Not to mention those mistakes this blog's Gotcha Gang (I purloined that name from the wise and wonderful William Safire and promise not to use it again) catches me on. Imagine the stupid stuff we say that we don't catch.

Not to pick on Obama, but his factual mistakes have been the most Dan Quaylish of the three. And, they are funny. McCain's just don't compare and Clinton's mistakes tend to come from having her being a little heavy to dance with (an expression I learned from an English pilot in Denmark) and due to the over-sensitivity of our current culture. Here are Obama's best, or is it worst (excluding the one about the 58 states):

- His parents got together because of the events at Selma, Alabama during the civil rights struggle. Unfortunately, he was born a couple of years before Selma. It is, of course, possible in a scenario suggested by a few highly accurate movies, that his parents met at Selma, realized their son would run for president, traveled back in time . . . .

- 10,000 people died from the tornadoes in Kansas this year. Well, to be fair 12 times 833 almost equals ten thousand and you would do that because -- quick look over there -- it's Brangelina.

- Suggesting that Clinton did better than he did in Kentucky because of the proximity of it to Arkansas, where she is well known. Huh? Now, how did he forget that the good people of Illinois, who elected him Senator, actually live next door to Kentucky, as opposed to Arkansas, which isn't (although not far).

- That we could be using the translators we now have in Iraq in Afghanistan if we had left. Problem is, the people in those two countries speak different languages. I guess he hasn't read the papers in a few years. So, just what does his being a former president of The Harvard Law Review really tell us about his education?

To drop out or not to drop out

Leaving gaffes for strategy, I am still perplexed by the debate over whether Clinton should get out. There is a very fair argument that her dropping out would benefit the Democrat party. But, since when have candidates put the party above their personal ambitions? And, really, why should they if they believe that they are best thing for their party (and you know they do)? Politics is a little like capitalism. People have to have some self interest in their hearts to do it. Leaving aside a couple of secular saints, why else would they go through that hell?

Arguably, the Democrats would also have been better off if Obama dropped out when Clinton was in the lead, avoiding a bit of unpleasantness (exaggerated, in my humble opinion) and the whole Reverend Wright thingee (which I feel certain will make a difference in the general election). There is the difference, of course, that it is virtually impossible for her to win now absent some unforeseen political time bomb going off, and that wasn't true when she was leading.

A few pundits, not many, have had the wisdom to see that maybe all the fuss between them has driven John McCain out of the news, except when he says something stupid, and, it the continued race might actually be good for the Democrats. All the fussing of McCain and even Pat Buchanan in '00 did not stop Bush.

Global Warming

More and more I gear myself up to try and learn something about the global warming debate, but, I have the feeling that the topic has been too infected by partisan warriors to find much on it that is a fair examination. Frankly, I have little interest in a book or article that has come to a strong conclusion, because I do not know how this is possible given the limited information we seem to have.

Please feel free to write in and tell me that it is crystal clear that A) global warming is a fact (as well as man's contribution to it) or B) Global warming is no more than a bad dream Al Gore had, and that everyone knows it. It's not that partisans choose to refuse to believe only what those people they identify with politically have to say, they just do it without thinking. If people actually believe that disagreements on federalism and the construction of the constitution also have meaning when we discuss the weather, well, what are the limits, really?


I've said this before probably, but need to emphasize it. When it comes to Iraq, I don't care whether Obama, Clinton or McCain are in office. The facts on the ground there, and the opinions of the chiefs of staff will dictate what the next president does, whether we go or stay, and how soon.

I do not believe that a Democratic president will allow chaos to reign in Iraq by removing too many troops too soon, nor do I believe a Republican one will allow us to drain our last drachmas down the Tigris River. At some point we will go, of course, except for a symbolic force. We may leave a relatively peaceful country or not, but we will go. After all, Lebanon is about to implode again and we can do nothing about it. Nor do we try much. (Self promotion flash - if you are interested in the Hezbollah-Israeli war fought a couple of Summers ago, take a look at the 10/25and 11/12 posts on the subject. I may not be right, but I think my slant on the unseen importance of that conflict is different than any one else's [and, by the way, I'm right]).

A personal indulgence

Permit me a little self indulgence here. While I'm busy self promoting (to what end? you may ask - I'm not selling coffee mugs with my picture on it?), I was looking at the archives of this post, and have to admit, felt a little pride there (don't get excited -- not that much). It started in September '06 and I had no idea whether I would continue to write it or not, but have done so roughly once a week since then. That is much longer than all but two relationships I've had and about half as long as my longest job. If I'm going to have a problem with committment, at least it does not seem to be with writing. And that is true even if they are all awful.

I have no idea of the size of my audience, but if it is more than ten people regularly (perhaps much less), I'll be surprised. I know I'm surprised when people I would not have guessed tell me they read it.

Looking back, I've written several times on Civil War stories, General James Longstreet, who hated whom among the forefathers, Winston Churchill, possibly the greatest runner in history (4/11/07), an American Olympian that will surprise you (not saying more -- 1/6/08), the worst vice presidents, Abraham Lincoln (about to fight a duel?, Lincoln the racist?), Abraham of the Bible (wait to you read this one), the Epic of Gilgamesh, the atomic bomb, the guy who invented radio and whose inventions allowed modern electrification (not who they taught you either -- 12/7/06), the ancient Greek language, famous people named Moses, George Chuvalo (a boxer, if you didn't know), abortion, evidence of early man (or lack thereof), the assassination of a world leader you never heard of (4/28/08), Bruce Lee, chimeras, who wrote Night Before Christmas (a personal favorite – 9/26/06), atheists and their spirituality, a scary opinion poll (my first post - 9/6/06), cell phones manners, the educational system, an Alexander Hamilton sex scandal and an Alexander Hamilton murder mystery, George Washington and civility, at least two attacks on Thomas Jefferson, the Nazi Invasion of Long Island, Louis Prima, the problem with predictions, quantum physics, the great writer/explorer, Richard Burton (no, not the actor), the planet Pluto, secrecy in war, the Santa Claus/Thor connection (another personal favorite –- 11/2/06), Superman and Hugo Chavez, Elliot Sptizer, Anna Nicole Smith (in case you thought tv lawyers are unrealistic), The Lord of the Rings, proof of Jesus' existence, the Supreme Court, bureaucracy, UFOs, inspirational readings, the second amendment, national security letters, a number of posts on various forgotten mountain men, movie trivia, political and geographic trivia, recurring posts on politics, and some desert island furbishing (purely aesthetic, I assure you). There is also one piece of fiction (3/6/07) and a bit on a lady friend (who does read this) who has a penchant for saying some unusual things (4/26/07) which always tickle me. I'm sure there are others I've forgotten.

One more small personal indulgence -- happy birthday to my great friend of almost 40 years (38, but whose counting) -- Bear, likely the most frequent visitor to this site, who weighs in regularly with either a bouquet of roses or a battering ram in the comment section, and who too infrequently posts himself at

End of indulgences.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, you ever make me weepie again because of one of your blogs, I am coming down there to smack you. 'Nuff said.


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .